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Design Inspo

4 Coffee Bar Ideas for Small Spaces

Let’s talk about how to set up a coffee bar that rivals your favorite coffee shop at home in a small space that doesn’t sacrifice style.

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Somewhere along the way, we’ve shifted from seeing the boutique coffee bar of the 90s (rather than a cup at the breakfast table) as a relatively novel idea to viewing drinking gourmet coffee as a daily ritual we can’t imagine living without.

Pre-pandemic, grabbing a cup of joe with a friend or co-worker during the day was an ingrained habit. However, due to lockdowns, remote work, and growing online markets, things are shifting, and setting up a coffee experience at home is becoming the new norm … again. 

This home coffee bar isn’t necessarily the stovetop drip pot of the early 1900s. Today we crave unique blends for different times of day, different seasons, and our various moods. The same variety and satisfaction you get from the local coffee shop can be had at home, even in the smallest of places. Plus, who doesn’t want to save some money by making your brew at home?

We’ll show you how to squeeze a personalized, relaxing coffee station into any home.

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Why Would You Want a Coffee Bar?

Things have changed in the last few years, and gathering around the coffee pot at work is a less common ritual for today’s workers. Many of us now work from home and find that, without co-workers, we actually forget to push away from the desk and take a breather. Having a daily coffee bar routine reminds us to take a break.

Make Taking a Break Convenient 

A coffee bar station stocked and ready to go inside a home is the perfect excuse to refresh yourself and rest your mind. While it may seem like a knee-jerk activity of little importance, it can actually give your brain a break and let you take a moment to reframe a hectic day. Short ten-minute breaks allow your brain to come back to work refreshed and with new problem-solving strategies. Goodbye, fatigue!

Enhance Your Social Life

We once gravitated to the coffee pot at work, and we can do the same at home. While spending more time at home, people find that getting to know their neighbors happens more naturally and improves their quality of life. What better way to host an impromptu afternoon espresso with a neighbor than at your handy coffee bar?

Appeal to Discriminating Tastes

While meeting after work at the pub may be an office tradition for some, coffee is still the most preferred beverage of the average American. Coffee (and any other brewed drink) is also easy to customize with caffeine and milk alternatives. The perfect coffee bar can satisfy every guest's tastes and dietary restrictions in a way that pre-dinner cocktails may not.

1. Set Up a Coffee Bar in an Unoccupied Space

Deciding where to set up a coffee bar may seem ridiculously obvious: most of us assume it would be a kitchen area or dining room. However, since innovations in boutique coffee and coffee shops shook up many of our coffee-drinking traditions, we shouldn’t be too quick to choose the best spot for our coffee maker. 

The Kitchen

The kitchen is the classic choice for a coffee bar location, particularly if you have space for a separate coffee area. A small butcher block kitchen island set in the corner could be all the space you need to house a coffee bar. 

Even a kitchen bartop that is rarely used could hold an espresso maker and a few fun decanters for coffee and sugar. Hang a couple of small floating shelves on the wall by the bartop for extra storage. (The dishwasher is also nearby to make cleanup easier.)

Any Empty Corner 

If your dining area has an awkward nook, hang floating shelves above a DIY counter that brings purpose to this unused space. If you have room for a slim end table, you have room for an at-home coffee bar.

Don’t feel like you have to give in to tradition. Consider where you’d most like to have the convenience of a coffee maker and repurpose a living room pedestal table as a coffee bar. Turn a coffee table into a coffee cart simply for the pun of it. 

An Old Dresser

Use a dresser painted a fun color to organize a coffee maker and syrups. A unit with drawers makes discreet storage of mugs, beverage napkins, and spoons easy. If you have an armoire that isn’t being used, consider making it a hidden coffee station with an espresso machine, cups on hooks, and service ware inside.

Lastly: Anywhere and Everywhere

Set up a coffee bar in any room of the house with a dedicated rolling cart to prepare your java. Vintage glass and brass bar carts elevate the coffee bar to a glamorous ritual. Choose cups and decanters that play up the art deco vibes of the coffee bar. 

Gorgeous details could include an industrial-strength coffee bar cart with rustic wood accents, an iron pipe frame, and industrial caster wheels — love. Offset the heavy materials and lines of your cart with a glass vase of flowers and organic pottery for storing coffee beans or for sipping.

2. Invest in Small Space Barista Tools

It goes without saying that you’ll want to include the best quality tools that fit within the space while satisfying everyone’s coffee cravings. 

Look for compact versions of these tools:

  • Small single-cup grinders 
  • Air-tight bean canister
  • A three-cup French press for tight spaces
  • An espresso/coffee maker for two-in-one
  • Espresso tamper and scoop in one
  • Small-scale half-and-half creamer service
  • Petite sugar and cinnamon dispensers
  • Mugs or stacked paper cups
  • Stirring spoons
  • Specialty syrups
  • A personal-size spill tray
  • Coasters or beverage napkins
  • A tiered tray for cookies like biscotti or displaying coffee pods

Don’t forget that a thoughtful host should always have a little decaf or tea tins available for non-coffee drinkers to enjoy.

3. Create an Accent Wall Over the Coffee Bar

A beautifully designed espresso or coffee machine should speak to your taste — literally and metaphorically. Heighten this delicious experience with an accent wall behind the coffee bar.

Use Wallpaper To Set Your Home Bar Apart

Run a strip of whimsical wallpaper behind your new coffee service station in colors that coordinate with the rest of the room for an easy way to set the bar apart from the rest of your space.

Choose from your home color palette to keep the entire space cohesive. If a coffee bar is set up in a corner, consider wrapping arch-shaped wallpaper around the corner to cover both walls. 

Create Coffee ShopVibes With Paint

Much like wallpaper, painting a section of the room around the coffee bar sets a chill coffee house mood in an otherwise bland space. Go with light pastels in a boho kitchen, or use rich, moody colors to encourage long coffee breaks and equally rich conversation in a dark academia-styled dining room. 

Chalkboard paint can double as a refined matte paint job and a quirky way to personalize a coffee station. If you feel a little chalkboard paint goes a long way, consider keeping it in a small area. For instance, if a coffee bar is closed up in a repurposed armoire, paint the inside of the doors with chalkboard paint for daily messages to family and friends when they open it up.

Let a Well-Designed Mug Rack Frame Your Bar

Hanging a classic glass or mug rack on the wall above the coffee bar makes a clear statement of intention but also brings in a useful, minimalist design element. Simple iron racks can complement an industrial, farmhouse, or minimal look. If wall space is scant, consider slipping a metal mug hook rack under an existing cabinet or attach a simple, curved wrought iron five-hook rack above the station.

If you have only a bit of wall space above your repurposed coffee bar table, look for a small hutch-style spice rack to set onto the tabletop or hang just above it for a modern farmhouse take on coffee, tea, and sugar storage. 

Use Signage, Sparingly

If you’re going to use the ever-ubiquitous coffee signage over your coffee bar, you may as well go a less-traveled route and do something creative like a custom neon sign that says something totally unexpected and personal about your caffeine customs. Remember, “But first… coffee” isn’t your only option. 

If you choose to hang a coffee-themed sign, consider a vintage sign or even DIY an authentic-looking version of the logo of your favorite coffee house in college. Maybe you’d prefer to borrow from the artistry of the cafe owners you love downtown and start your own chalkboard sign tradition over your coffee station. Have fun making this graphic design statement about your little coffee space and how you use it. 

4. Choose Coffee Bar Decor Intentionally 

Your coffee bar isn’t just a collection of utilitarian tools and ingredients. It is a statement about your relaxing habits — is taking a little break for an afternoon espresso to gather your thoughts or chat with a friend a priority? 

Decanters Make All the Difference

Have fun with the style of coffee maker you use now by choosing decanters that play up its best qualities. Highlight the science-lab look of your favorite pour-over coffee maker with beaker-style syrup bottles or creamers. Stirrers and beans alike can be stored in apothecary jars.

Highlight the retro feel of a mid-century-style espresso machine by keeping sugar and cinnamon in diner-style salt and pepper shakers. Switch your decanters to heirloom crystal barware to play up the art deco look of the brass bar cart. 

Standing Bottle Racks Bring in Clean Design

Bottle or glass racks are not only useful but also bring an interesting design to your coffee nook. Find a tiered antique bottle rack that blends seamlessly with a mid-century modern interior design style or work that minimal space with a simple bamboo mug tree. Standing drying racks can be sized for anywhere from 6 to 60-plus mugs, all within a small space.

Include Unexpected Finishing Touches

Don’t let the personalization you’ve already put into your coffee rituals stop with your dedicated coffee station. Fill the area with unexpected decor that provides the finishing touch to your personalized coffee station. Try these ideas for a coffee bar unlike any other: 

  • Make photo coasters of family and friends.
  • Stack mismatched coffee mugs from various China pattern sets for an eclectic look.
  • Stock a variety of beans from local roasters your friends may not have tried yet.
  • Have a neat stack of multicolored handkerchiefs or beverage napkins in a colorful stack.
  • Keep a wireless speaker handy for your perfect coffee house tunes playlist.
  • Set up a mini art gallery on the wall of favorite prints or canvases for a true coffee house vibe. 
  • Include a collection of easy-care succulents for a surprising burst of color. 
  • Keep a couple of cozy, overstuffed club chairs nearby for good conversation and comfortable seating.

Enjoy Your Home-Brewed Coffee Bar 

It’s time you put your unique spin on coffee house culture by creating your ultimate coffee hangout spot, reflecting your home decor and your coffee-drinking style. Share your inspiring coffee bar makeover and source more home design ideas when you join the Spoak creative community.

Photo Credit: (Left) Semihandmade via Reserve Home


What Made Coffeehouse Culture Go Boom? | Bloomberg

COVID changed our coffee culture, if not our love for the drink. | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Demand for Cold Brew, Increasing Out of Home Coffee Consuming Population | PRNewswire

Ground zero: What happened to all the coffee shops once America stayed home? | NBC

Nation's health may depend on people getting to know each other again | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Sidewalk Blackboards Offer Some Chalk ’n’ Chew | The New York Times

Java flashback: What Portland coffee culture was like before Starbucks | Oregon Live

How to Tell If Your Brain Needs a Break | New York Times

From decorating coffee corners to making the most of storage spaces, use Spoak’s interior design tools to help your design dreams come true.

Date Posted
August 15, 2023



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